Monday, September 03, 2012
Today I woke-up to find a single red rose and this beautiful card. Perfect in its simplicity and rich with meaning. I love his thoughtfulness and sincerity. His encouraging words have always meant the most...
This sweet gesture I realize is yet another stitch carefully woven into a gorgeous life we are creating every day -- with God's help and the love and support of family and friends. It's a beautiful life and I look forward to more years of loving, caring and growing together.
With you by my side,
everything in the world
Good things are twice as much fun
because when I share them with you
I get to see you smile...
Bad things are only half as bad
because I know
I can count on you to help me
With you to hold my hand,
I know that I have someone
who sees life a lot like I do,
someone who shares the same values,
dreams the same dreams...
I know that I have someone
the parts of me that other people
don't even know exist.
With you in my life,
I know that I have everything
anyone could ever want --
someone who's understanding
who's fun and interesting...
Someone I love
who also happens to be
my best friend.
-- Renee Duvall
Sunday, September 11, 2011
The excerpts from my journal on 9/11 – 9/25 really capture it best. I lived in New York City and had left just one week before for a six month work assignment in Seattle. I was 26 years old. I worked for Edelman PR in Times Square. I lived in Hoboken, NJ and took the PATH train into the city stopping under the Twin Towers to change trains and then head uptown. Though I was physically in Seattle, my heart was still very much in NYC.September 11, 2001
No words, No words. Today must surely be the day that will live in infamy. I woke-up early this morning, still on east coast time. I got dressed and headed to the gym, started working out. Looked up at the television and saw smoke and flames blowing out of the Twin Towers. I knew it was NYC, but I asked the woman next to me, “Where is that?” She replied too casually, “New York.” It was real. I grabbed my bag and ran home. I was hysterically crying, but tried to dial numbers none the less… Ryan…no answer; Heather…come on…“Hello?”
I woke her up and told her to turn on the news. Her boyfriend Jared was supposed leave for the Army today. Names…after names… Just started dialing people…Sarra, Christine, Suria, Rajan, Anna… Messages, after messages. I could not reach anyone. Eventually my phone stopped allowing me to dial out. No phone, no internet and the city of Seattle was shutdown. I fell on my knees on the floor of my apartment and began to pray my heart out. “God, please protect them. Please keep them safe.”
Then Becky in LA got through! It was so good to hear her voice. “Kate are you in NY?” “No, Seattle.” I cried and cried. “I can’t make calls on my phone and my mom left a message. She thinks I am in NYC. Please let my parents know I am okay. I am supposed to go back this Friday.” She sent an email right away.
Got a call from my new boss Stacey and she asked me to come downtown to the Four Seasons where she was staying. I tried calling Moe but couldn’t reach her. The cell phone was useless and I needed to get online to check on people. So I went downtown to work simply to get to my computer. It’s a miracle I made it due to the amount of tears and thus impaired vision. On the way, Bekah and Alex got through. Everyone is so upset.
Once at work I began emailing everyone and instantly began hearing back from friends. (Thank God!) I heard from Malika, she heard from Ginnie, Ryan was okay. He was locked down by security in a different building downtown and then evacuated. Now at a friend’s apartment on 14th. I finally heard from him later. He seemed ice cold and in total shock. Like nothing had happened. He had just come off the train in the basement of the Towers and out onto the street at Liberty & Church. He had just run into his boss and stopped to chat for a minute when the first plane struck. Everyone looked up and then collectively realized debris was going to fall on them. They took off running. At first they thought a pilot had a heart-attack or something. He got to One Chase Plaza and into a conference room to watch the second tower get hit. Then he realized we were under attack and he immediately thought their building was next, because it is the next tallest building downtown. They held them for four hours because of the Towers collapse. He walked up to Union Square on foot in inches of soot, office chairs, desks, pens, paper everywhere.
This is so heart-breaking, so unbelievable. I finally got in touch with my parents and my father asked me not to fly. He doesn’t believe this is the end of it. He lost a lot of colleagues today at the Pentagon and to think of the thousands of people who’ve lost their lives today. It is devastating. Still unaccounted for tonight – Anna, Rajan and Baby Doran; Suria Clarke; Cathleen’s Jason.
September 13, 2001, 2:30 p.m.
Just off the phone with my parents and broke down in tears because I feel so utterly helpless being so far away from everyone I love. Not being able to fly home leaves me powerless to help. I sent out an email to everyone tonight letting them know of my plans to fly this weekend. After speaking to my dad it sounds like that is highly unlikely. He said they are opening Regan and Newark for emergency needs only like experts, surgeons, etc. But, no commercial traffic for at least a week or two. It’s higher than the FAA it’s a military zone.
I am still trying to find a reason for why I am stuck sitting here instead of NYC. I feel guilty that I wasn’t at work when it happened – that I wasn’t there to support my friends or at least be there to experience it first hand, so I know the right things to say.
I don’t know what’s worse…being there or being trapped 3000 miles away. I have no words. Just pain and longing to see their faces and to hug them close.
September 13, 2001, 11:00 p.m.
This is a week I never wish anyone to repeat. Today was tough. As if news could not get worse and yet it did. I got an email from Sarra that Suria Clarke was listed as missing. Michele said she got a work email from her about 15 minutes before the first plane struck. Got on the phone with Sarra and she gave it to me straight. eSpeed was a part of Cantor Fitzgerald and there is no way she is still alive.
It is utterly devastating that so many young, bright, beautiful people have lost their lives needlessly. What is this world coming too? I am beyond tears…I have none left…I just feel hollow.
Sarra is exhausted. She has been volunteering downtown at the Cantor Fitzgerald tent, registering names of missing people and comforting families looking for loved ones. I should be with her.
Anna, Rajan and Baby Doran are in the Hamptons. They left at 10 p.m. on September 10. (There is a God!) Rajan’s been back to the city. There place is destroyed. So, they are staying in the Hamptons indefinitely. Thank God they are safe.
I am supposed to fly to Newark tomorrow, but my flight was cancelled. Was thinking about flying into BWI and then driving. If I have to I’ll fly to Philly and then take the train. I guess I could take a train across country. But it would take days.
More and more friends are beginning to call and talk, I am beginning to realize I CAN help them from here by being supportive and just listening.
September 21, 2001
Flew back finally on Tuesday to spend two weeks in NYC. Heather met me Tuesday night and we went for a walk down at Hoboken’s Pier A. Saw the skyline finally up close and just still have trouble believing my eyes. It is still emitting smoke and there is nothing. Nothing there. All of the missing people flyers strung up all over the place and the heaviness that everyone carries with them. Staring off to a far away place, as they walk past you on the street… And then there are the complete strangers who will stop on the street just to say hello, connect, and ask you how you are doing. I suppose having lived through this together we are no longer strangers. Humanity is stripped bare; egoless; kind – in the wake of this terror.
September 25, 2001
What confusing and scary times these are. Everyone is wondering what more they can be doing or how they want to change their lives. I suppose living more simply and fully, so we can enjoy more of the real things in life. It’s a very personal and individual tragedy, as well as a national one.
May we never forget!
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Inspired by Matthew 6:19-21, 25.
“And love is not the easy thingI’ve been thinking a lot about personal identity. Namely the ego, which I’ve been in the process of shedding for the past 10 years.
The only baggage you can bring…
And love is not the easy thing…
The only baggage you can bring
Is all you can’t leave behind.”*
This collection of ‘me, my and mine’ I’ve been attempting to disassemble, in big ways and small ways, is comprised of three main parts:
- what I do
- what I have
- what I desire
Before one can ‘put on’ the new self, one must ‘take-off’ the old. Hmmm… How am I doing at the unpacking process, in the effort to make room for LOVE?
As the songs says, Love is not the easy thing…
What I do…
As you may choose to read below in a series of letters between my mom and I -- I lost my first layer of self in 2001.
I can still remember exactly where I was on 6th at Pine in front of Barnes & Noble when I heard the Lord’s voice (in my head, and yes it was my voice but completely ‘other,’ as well). He simply said this…”You are overcomplicating this. It is very simple -- choose life or death.” Being the reasoning sort, I replied, “What is life?” And he said, “Life is accepting this diagnosis as a moment in time, nothing more or less. Life means putting it on a shelf and revering it as a teacher, but nothing more. Life means, placing it in your backpack along with the other moments and continuing to walk on.” I thought for a moment, then replied, “What is death?” “Death is giving up here. Camping on this moment in time. Wear the T-shirts; march in the parades. Tell everyone you meet you have MS. Allow it to define you. That is the path to death.” Without a second thought, I simply replied, “Well, I choose life.”
And with that came the first major test. I had to give up what I thought was my dream job in New York City. Come to find out I had gotten so much of my identity at work – when it went away so did all salary, many ‘friends,’ my apartment, etc. I was alone. It was a bit humiliating. I had ‘worked’ since childhood; my parents valued their jobs and taught me a strong work ethic from the start. When it came to who I was outside of my work, I had no idea. The only thing I came up with was ‘Kate, has no job.’ Not surprisingly, I fell into a depression -- believing a lie -- I was not much of anything without my work.
By the grace of God and more than a few angels, I was able to keep walking. And so I have. No more illness, no more prestigious career and a few outside hobbies.
“You’re packing a suitcase for a place none of us has beenWhat I have…
A place that has to be believed to be seen…
You could have flown away
A singing bird in an open cage
Who will only fly, only fly for freedom…”*
You may also read below about the process last year of letting go of what I thought was my dream home and all the furnishings within it. The second test. It’s been hard not to look backward being surrounded by so many friends with beautiful homes and ‘things’ many of which I once had too. How I long to entertain or drop $200 on a new pair of shoes. I’d be lying if I did not admit there are days when I still wish for our Craftsman home in Seattle or the farm in Illinois. Since becoming a mother and having a family – my house and home became my way of expressing myself. They, too, got in the way of God’s call on my life. So who am I now? No longer the ‘owner’ of a beautiful garden and home?
It was my husband Jason who actually helped me celebrate this morning. We realized we are no longer living in a locked cage. Owning very few worldly possessions, we are free to go and do whatever we are called to do, whenever He chooses to call. We are filled to the brim with something so much more precious than the latest Pottery Barn special. We’ve found the proverbial pearl and have traded everything for it. We can just be in the present and celebrate the amazing freedom that comes when you realize -- you have nothing to lose.
“Walk on, walk on
What you got they can’t steal it
No they can’t even feel it
Walk on, walk on…
What you got they can’t deny it
Can’t sell it or buy it
Walk on, walk on…”*
What I desire…
This last bit is the level I know least about, for I am just getting started. I have a feeling though this means getting in touch with the plan God has for me. Notice I say plans not duties.
This precious moment is where religious activities can actually imped our progress rather than support it. We can read the Bible, go to church, volunteer our hearts out to create a false feeling of ‘abundance’ in our spiritual lives. Over time this becomes subtly Pharisaic and removes us from the presence of God.
We need to be honest with ourselves, each other and God. Right now, I am dealing with death and releasing my fear of it. This death I am speaking of is both literal and figurative -- it is all at once a process and a path of dying to self. But, alas, that is how it works – the ego must die for the spirit to be fully born. One can’t be free to truly live, if she is subtly afraid of losing her life. Fear will shape our way of living if we let it. Think on this.
I believe God has planted within each of us deep desires as well as talent and gifts to make them manifest. I believe God’s desire for us is we desire above all things what Christ demonstrates - LOVE, FAITH, HOPE. I believe we cannot know our true selves until we know the truth of who we are in Christ…
As my dad would often say, “Here’s a newsflash sports fans…”
”Karma is dead. Grace is alive!” ~ Bono
The TRUTH about you is that you are LOVED – not judged. Therefore, leave all the hurt, disappointment, pain, lies behind.
No matter the question – the answer is LOVE.
“Leave it behindYou’ve got to leave it behindAll that you fashionAll that you makeAll that you buildAll that you breakAll that you measureAll that you stealAll this you can leave behindAll that you reasonAll that you senseAll that you speakAll you dress upAll that you scheme…”*
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Friday, April 22, 2011
"Your life is happening right now and this is the only moment you can control. This is the only minute that really matters. If you are constantly dwelling on something that happened in the past or feeling anxious about the future, you are missing out on YOUR LIFE. Do what makes you happy in this moment and your life will be full." ~ Jill Costello
Friday, March 25, 2011
The Dalai Lama, when asked what surprised him most about humanity, answered "Man. Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then dies having never really lived."
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the importance of a pause. Just a breath, 1-2 seconds, maybe five minutes, or possibly even a few days to process a bit before opening my mouth and painting my world with words.
This discipline is particularly difficult for me. You see, I am what you call a Sanguine personality. I am extroverted, bubbly, social, friendly, creative, sensitive, compassionate, in love with love, and thoughtful. I’ve also been called a creative-type (not in a good way), a daydreamer, quirky, over-committed, fickle, too-emotional, disorganized and scatter-brained.
You see Sanguines are out and about; we have varied interests. We love people and also whatever is most important to the people we love. So you see -- we can easily get excited about anything! But the real key to living this way is remembering to make time for one’s self; a.k.a. - pressing pause.
Earlier this year I made the resolution, to slow down and process before making a move or saying ‘yes’ out of excitement. I realize how easily I can convince myself I am doing the right thing, by helping someone else out. I call it the Wizard of Oz syndrome.
Here’s how it goes… There is an ‘opportunity’ typically in the form of an emergency. Typically involving a ‘we need X’ and ‘you are an expert X’! Can you help us? The ‘X’ in me yells, of course! I can help! Sounds fun, let’s go! And the proverbial Tornado spins away.
Next scene opens and it’s 24/7 Oz -- full of really friendly, candy-eating, happy, short-people… (No, not really, but you get the gist.) My daily priorities and responsibilities fly out the window (that old Aunt Em wasn’t fun, anyway!). This place is cool; I feel vital, important and needed. Heck, I’m just gonna follow this yellow brick road, and see where it leads.
A few months down the road after encountering a few characters, I find myself in a field of poppies wondering “why, oh why, did I say yes” when what I really should have said was NO!
Locked in someone else’s dilemma (complete with a little green guy behind a BIG mask). I miss my home, my life. And so I pack myself up in a huff, and puff back down the yellow brick road to the stinkin’ crossroads -- where some else’s ‘emergency’ got me entangled and snagged from the right choice for me. Nice job, Dorothy!
I have learned pressing pause does a few things…
1) It allows the Holy Spirit (higher conscience; wisdom; cerebral cortex) to intervene in our first, initial flesh (animal; emotions; amygdalae) response.
2) It allows the ability to truly listen and be present in a conversation, so the conversation is not all about ‘me’. Hear the real question; weigh an appropriate response.
3) It allows the objectivity to get it through my head -- ‘I’ am not always right. Just because it’s interesting, or I can do it, doesn’t mean I should.
4) It provides the perspective to realize abundant gifts are available to us every day. A response of gratitude and praise is welcome, no matter the decision.
5) It opens up the resources to serve, give and encourage when everyone else seems to be ignoring or rushing by. Sometimes serving means being used in much less visible ways. You may get your hands dirty. There will be no applause, photos of remembrance or plaques of praise.
6) It allows the space to consider the end, before agreeing to a beginning. Sometimes ‘no’ is the better answer. And sometimes getting to ‘no’ takes time.
7) It prevents other people from controlling – based on their wants, needs and emergencies – away from our true potential.
8) It provides the time to consider whether we are getting overly involved in someone else’s goals and vision, or becoming entangled in someone else’s problems – instead of staying on track with our own unique mission and goals.
9) It prevents us from being tempted to ignore/avoid our own work by focusing on someone else’s work – out of our need to feel ‘busy’, ‘good’ or ‘helpful’.
10) Lastly, it builds a resource of courage, strength and confidence every time we are able to say, “thank you so much for thinking of me, but NO thank you.”
Saturday, March 12, 2011
Those words became our family-motto over the past 10 months.
A dear friend of mine forwarded this article at a time when we needed reminding we were on the right path. It said, “when moving from point A to point B, we sometimes feel trapped in between. You must trust God to guide you to your destination.”
As you’ve read in my previous posts -- we took this call seriously last year and sold everything to follow Him. A year ago, Jason applied to a Chicago agency and was offered a ‘great opportunity’ in their SF office. We hadn’t even considered San Francisco, let alone wanted to move from our home in IL. But opportunity knocked in a westerly direction and we answered.
In the spirit of the article, here is how we managed through the transition:
1. Make sure you let go of the past. Mourning the loss of our farm and proximity to family was tough. We were overwhelmed the first few months. We hadn’t wanted to leave and had to let go of our expectations, memories and the relationships we had cultivated. Eventually, we realized looking backward meant getting stuck. We had to release the past, and move forward.
2. Renounce your doubts. Doubt is seductive. Jason’s job opportunity turned out to be a huge challenge for both of us. The job was not the job as described, and the former colleagues he had hoped to work for ended up not being involved in his day-to-day. During the most confusing of times we reminded ourselves this was a transition. We had no idea where it would lead, but we knew this was the direction God had sent us. We could therefore trust the choice.
3. Welcome those God sends to help you. God definitely used people to push us to the next level. My aunt and uncle, Bethany Paternoga, Karen Von Lanken and even the folks Jason worked for. They were all put in place to help move us from Point A to Point B. Spiritual transition is definitely a painful process, but part of the work is asking for help and grabbing the lesson. Everything we gained will be essential ahead.
4. Contend for your promise. The enemy is a thief and he did try and rob us. Last month, upon returning to work, after spending a week in Maryland serving and supporting my family through my father’s Stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis, Jason received notice.
One might wonder ‘why’ in a situation like this. And in fact we both did at times. There were brief discussions about retreating to IL or Maryland. But then we remembered ‘don’t get stuck in the transition’ and we felt peace – God was all over this. We quickly realized this job was merely a bridge to get us from Point A to Point B – NOT an end in itself. We were still on track and had to keep moving forward.
5. Stay close to the Shepherd. Over the past three weeks, Jason was in the Word every morning and God was specific and encouraging. During the day he was busy interviewing, and earned two job offers within a few weeks.
As a final test…God presented one offer exactly like the old opportunity. It would have required no change other than turning right instead of left, outside of the Montgomery MUNI station.
He withheld the second opportunity until Jason released Company A. Literally within minutes of withdrawing from Company A, his phone rang with a fantastic offer from Company B.
He had to give up the good twice -- to get the great!
And we are both very grateful. Over a year ago, I asked Jason to describe his perfect job and this new one is it. No doubt God heard him and then went to work putting the people and plans in place.
I hope, if you feel a deep urge to change (God calling you out of) your current situation, you will have the courage, patience and persistence to take action (follow Him).